Early Mountain Vineyards

On our way home from Charlottesville over the Memorial Day weekend we decided to stop at Early Mountain Vineyards. We hadn’t been there in awhile so we wanted to see what was new.

Our tasting associate Julie, guided us through a tasting of all the Early Mountain wines. Of the whites we really enjoyed the 2016 Pinot Gris. We noted peach, wet stone, and mineral. Warren described it as clean and delicate. I agreed!

We were split on the reds. I really enjoyed the 2015 Foothills. I noted smoke, cherry, blackberry, and pepper. It made me think of beef! Warren favored the 2014 Novum. He noted seed berries, a hint of leather and smooth finish. I enjoyed it as well but preferred the Foothills. Our tasting associate Julie said of the Novum, “Wine is my favorite color.”

Julie was such a good tasting associate that I decided to join the wine club! We each enjoyed a flight of wines and some nibbles before making our purchases. We left with a case of wine but not before saying our goodbyes and recommending she check out our blog.


If you haven’t been to Early Mountain Vineyards lately, it’s time to return. If Julie is your tasting associate, tell her we said hello! And tell her that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Gray Ghost Vineyards

Last weekend Warren’s parents were in town from New Orleans. They were here to celebrate Father’s Day. We decided to take them the Gray Ghost Vineyards. Not only was it a special Father’s Day weekend, Gray Ghost was also releasing their latest Cabernet Franc.

During our tasting we were able to taste the 2016 Cabernet Franc. We loved it! We noted lots cherry and raspberry flavors and a very smooth finish. We thought it would pair perfectly with our light picnic fair. But we also thought it would pair nicely with some light pasta dishes and even turkey.


After our tasting we enjoyed our picnic items with a bottle of the 2016 Cabernet Franc. We enjoyed the live music while enjoying the views. I got a close look at the grapes and they are coming along nicely. The vineyards are looking great too!


Before leaving we ended up buying almost two cases of wine. We said our goodbyes with promises to return soon. If you haven’t been to Gray Ghost lately, plan a trip soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Back To Charlottesville

Over the Memorial Day weekend we went to Charlottesville to re-visit some of our favorite wineries and to check out a new one.

Our first stop was King Family Vineyards. We last visited in October 2016. Since our last visit they have built a new area for tasting. The new room is called the Polo Room. It is available for events, overflow for the main tasting room, and large groups. It was empty when we arrived so we elected to do our tasting in the new room.


Our tasting associate was very knowledgeable about King Family wines and guided us through our tasting like a pro. Our favorite white was the 2015 Viognier and our favorite red was the 2014 Meritage. Another favorite was the Crose. We like to take the Crose to Wolf Trap to enjoy while attending a concert. The new Polo Room has a beautiful patio that wraps around the building. We decided to enjoy a glass of the Viognier while enjoying the views. It was a beautiful day and the King Family grounds provide an amazing view of the surrounding mountains.


We always enjoy our time at King Family. The wines are perfect, the view is memorable and the staff are always welcoming and full of information.

Our next stop was Pollak Vineyards. I’m a club member there so it’s always fun to return to see what is new. And it’s always nice to see staff we know and who know us.

Of course we did a tasting. We tasted many new wines and enjoyed all of them. Some stood out to us though as wines we’d like to bring home. We noted the 2016 Pinot Gris, the 2014 Chardonnay, the 2014 Merlot and the 2014 Petit Verdot. We were there on a Saturday and the 2015 Cabernet Franc was going to be released on Monday. Nick decided to let us taste it as well. We noted a fruity palate, some dust, nice acidity, cherry notes and a hint of herb. Nick also let us purchase a bottle early!

After our tasting we sat on the patio and enjoyed a glass of the 2015 Cabernet Franc with a baguette. We watched the clouds roll by and noticed the new planting in the front of the building. Nick later informed us that it was Sauvignon Blanc. What a surprise! But it won’t be ready to make wine with until probably 2020. Before leaving we ended up buying a case of our favorites.

Our final stop of the day was a new winery to us, Valley Road Vineyards. It’s not far from both King Family and Pollak Vineyards. Valley Road Vineyards was started by a group of friends who love Virginia and wine. Matthieu Finot from King Family Vineyards is the wine maker. They have a really nice tasting room with plenty of room for lots of tasters.


All the wines are solid, clean and ready to enjoy. We had a wonderful tasting with the tasting room manager. We both agreed the 2015 Chardonnay was a favorite. We noted pear, pineapple, with a citrus burst. It would be perfect on a warm spring or summer day. The 2015 Torn Curtain was our favorite red. It’s a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Chambourcin. I’m not a chambourcin fan but the flavors were so well integrated, I barely knew there was Chambourcin in the blend. We noted ripe red cherry, fruity palate. It was an easy drinking wine made for pizza, pasta or burgers.

We enjoyed our time at Valley Road and plan to return. Before leaving we purchased our favorites. Valley Road Vineyards is the 181st winery we’ve visited. It was worth the visit!

If you haven’t been in the Charlottesville area lately, plan a trip soon. When you do, consider visiting King Family Vineyards, Pollak Vineyards, or Valley Road Vineyards. And when you do tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

The Gifts of Horse Heavens Hills

This post reviews two red wines from the Mercer label, and they include the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2014 Red Blend. The grapes that comprise these wines are grown in vineyards located in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation of course, this appellation is located in Washington state.

2014 Mercer Canyons Cabernet Sauvignon: No surprise that if the Mercer whites reviewed in a previous post were the product of a hot growing season, then the reds developed in the same hot environment Aromas of smoke, candied cherries, ripe blackberries, and spice greeted the nose; similar flavors were observed in the mouth the an oak note on the finish. We found this Cabernet Sauvignon to be quite accessible; however, we opened at least 30 minutes before serving with strip steak and roasted potatoes.

2014 Mercer Canyons Red Blend: We enjoyed this one quite a bit and dubbed it a crowd pleaser. Merlot leads the blend (59%) that includes Syrah (16%), Grenache (10%), Sangiovese (6%), Petit Verdot (6%), and Viognier (2%). Smoky notes led on the nose followed by ripe red fruit and spicy aromas. The palate recalled mixed berry jam which lingered quite a while; dusty tannins provided structure. I enjoyed this one with lamb chops seasoned with rosemary and thyme. Feel free to keep this Red Blend on hand for summer fare done on the grill and lightly coated with barbecue sauce.

We thank Brenda Mercer, marketing manager for Mercer’s wines, for giving us the opportunity to sample the wines (and thus the terroir of their slice of the Horse Heavens Hills appellation.) Please seek out these wines at your wine shop or their website and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Glen Manor Vineyards

It was gloomy and rainy on Saturday.  We decided to head to Glen Manor Vineyards to brighten our day. We didn’t want to miss the Sauvignon Blanc this year.

Luckily when we stepped up to the tasting bar, the Sauvignon Blanc was still on the menu. We tasted the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc first. We noted citrus and fresh herbs. However the 2016 was available for case club members. We decided to have a half bottle of the 2016 and a glass of the 2015 to do a little comparison. After our tasting we enjoyed both with our lunch items. While the 2015 was lovely, we decided we preferred the 2016 with food. We noted citrus, a weightier mouth feel and a whiff of stone fruit. It paired well with our Gruyere and Manchego cheeses.

Of course the Sauvignon Blancs were not the only wines we tasted. We were surprised by the 2014 Cabernet Franc. It’s 100% Cabernet Franc. We noted dark fruit through the palate with a medium tannin structure. It would compliment a lean cut of beef. Drink now or let it rest on the rack awhile.

If you are looking for a pizza, pasta, burger wine you can’t go wrong with the 2014 Vin Rouge. This is always one of our favorites. Grab this off the rack to go with pretty much any during the week meal.

And we are heading into warmer weather. You can’t forget the 2015 Morales Rose. Rose goes with everything! Ripe berry flavors dominate this rose. If you haven’t been to Glen Manor recently, it’s time to return. Even though it was a rainy day for us, there are sunny days ahead. Plan a visit to Glen Manor soon and when you do visit, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

A Taste of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA

We experienced wines from the Horse Heavens Hills AVA recently. Loyal readers may be asking where in Virginia is the Horse Heavens Hills AVA? It is actually located in Washington state along the Columbia River, and the wines that we sampled were from Mercer Estates Winery, a family-owned winery . The Mercer family has owned the property since 1886 and started producing wine from the estate in 2005. We offer our reviews of the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2015 Chardonnay in this post.

2015 Sauvignon Blanc: This was produced from a very hot growing season, and initial notes trended toward tropical with a whiff of cut grass. A few swirls of the glass presented grapefruit aromas. Grapefruit flavors and a zesty finish made for a refreshing display on the palate. We enjoyed this Sauvignon Blanc with honey goat cheese and baguette. This is a nice wine for warm weather; enjoy on its own or paired with gamey cheeses, fresh fruit, or shellfish.

2015 Chardonnay: Of course, this too was the product of a hot growing season. Chardonnay grapes in this bottling come from the best locations in the Horse Heavens Hills. I am not an ABCer (Anything But Chardonnay); in fact, I love Chardonnay. Needless to say, I looked forward to sampling this one. Pineapple and lime notes were complemented by juicy pear and apple flavors with oak nuances on the finish. I also savored the fuller mouth feel, and it was the perfect partner with roasted chicken served aside mashed potatoes.

We also sampled two red wines from Mercer, and our impressions of those wines will be posted in a later feature. We thank Brenda Mercer for introducing us to these lovely wines, and we encourage readers to seek out these wines at your local wine shop or order them from their website. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time recommended them.

Rappahannock Cellars

A few weeks ago we visited Rappahannock Cellars. We don’t visit too often but we always enjoy our time at Rappahannock when we do visit.

Of course we were there to taste the current line up of wines. From the few white wines that were on the tasting menu we both enjoyed the 2015 Viognier. We noted peach, tropical notes, and a full mouth feel. Warren also really enjoyed the 2014 Chardonnay. He noted pear, pineapple, and a honey feel.

There were more reds to taste than whites. From the reds we tasted we both enjoyed the 2012 Meritage. We noted pencil shavings on the nose and plum, currents, berry notes on the palate and tight tannins and leather notes. This one made us think of a thick filet mignon.

After our tasting we spoke with our tasting associate about the wine club. Of course I’m thinking I don’t need to join another wine club. But what hooked me was that most wine club shipments are wines not available to the general public. I belong to a handful of wine clubs and I enjoy wines that exclusive to the club. I decided to join the club.

We then entered the club room and did a little comparison of the club chardonnay vs. the regular chardonnay. We both enjoyed the club chardonnay. This little comparison was evidence enough for us to know we made the right decision to join the club. This is not to say the regular chardonnay isn’t good, we enjoyed it, but the club chardonnay was a step above.

We have many wine friends who are already club members at Rappahannock and now we are club members too! We enjoy joining them for events and tastings in the club room at Rappahannock. If you haven’t been to Rappahannock Cellars recently, return to see what’s new. And who knows, you might join the club! When you do return, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Wines Across America

Last week we attended the Wines Across America event held at the Longworth House Office Building in the shadow of the Capital. This is a yearly event for members of congress, staffers, and invited guests to come and taste wines from across the country. There were 97 wines being poured that evening from the four regions of the country. The event is put on by Wine America. We try to attend each year to taste wines from around the country and see how what’s new.

After making our way to the event we started with the north east region. Warren found is favorite wine here. He enjoyed the Dry Riesling from Anthony Road Wine Company from the Finger Lakes region of New York. He enjoyed the peach, tangerine and the long finish.

We had to travel to the south east region for me to find my favorite. And it happened to be local! My favorite was the Old Westminster 2014 Anthem. It’s a red blend with lots of fruit on the nose and a very smooth finish. I thought of red pasta sauce or even a hearty hamburger while sipping this one.

Virginia was well represented by Cardinal Point with their A6 and from Paradise Springs with their viognier.


We had a great time tasting wines and chatting it up with industry folks from around the country. There was some really nice wines represented at this event. If you get the chance in the future to attend the Wines Across America event, you will enjoy tasting wines from all corners of the country.

Pinot and Pasta and Parties Oh My!

Renaissance man Paul Sorvino known for his role in Goodfellas but also a noted operatic tenor, sculptor and cook teams up with wife Dee Dee, herself an accomplished award winning television personality to produce Pinot, Pasta and Parties; this is a cookbook which presents Italian recipes with Paul’s personal flare. I am always on the lookout for well-organized cookbook that present easy-to-follow directions and suggested menus. This one certainly fits the bill, and I thought that I would share my thoughts for readers who want to consider this cookbook.

The book’s thematic organization is its best feature. Chapters entitled “Made in America”, “La La Land”, and “Patriotism at Play” allow the cook to find a go-to menu for the right occasion. The menus themselves are complete from starters to desert and are very easy to follow. Is there something on the menu that doesn’t appeal to your particular palate or looking for an alternative to something on the set menu? No problem. The Sorvinos offer an alternative dish for each menu. For example, the La La Land themed menu that features such dishes as figs in a blanket, California veggie pizza, swordfish with olives and pasta primavera offers eggs in purgatory and stuffed peppers as alternatives.

Dee Dee Sorvino offers her skills as mixologist to present a special cocktail for each themed menu. Appalachia Magic, a mix of moonshine, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon bitters and star anise, complements the Made in America menu which features such delights as spaghetti western mac and cheese, meatball slider, and Paul’s special chili. Hosting a Goodfellas Feast? Dee Dee recommends The Goodfella, a blend of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Scotch, Cognac, land limoncello.

The Sorvinos also add a personal touch to the cook book. In addition to an introduction of themselves, each chapter includes a story about themselves, their relationship, and their passion for food, art and entertainment. Photos of themselves throughout the book enhance the personal element and the cook gets to know them both as individuals and as a couple.

I must, however, comment on the lack of suggested wine pairings with the menus. The title of the cookbook begins with the word Pinot; however, Pinot or any other varietal is never mentioned as a recommended pairing with the food. And we are all about wine and food here at Virginia Wine Time! There is an appendix at the end which provides description of Italian wine grapes, and that is it. I also don’t know that I would venture into the political theme suggested in the Patriotism at Play menu. In these times, a respite from political discussions (which usually lead to arguments) during a dinner party might be a good idea; I would adapt that chapter to suggest a July 4th gathering in which everyone can agree that celebrating American independence is always a good idea!

If you are in search of a cookbook that presents Italian dishes from starter to desert, then Pinot, Pasta, and Parties might be worth seeking out. You may also enjoy getting to know more about Paul and Dee Dee Sorvino. Remember, though, Virginia Wine Time recommended it!